I’m old fashioned when it comes to writing — I start everything on pen and paper, whether it’s a blog post, press release or article. My coworkers discovered this tendency of mine about a couple weeks ago, and they were appalled. I think I can almost hear your surprised interjections now.
But honestly, writing with a pen and paper gives me a better push than starting out cold on the computer. In fact, some people believe pen and paper are the “most underrated creativity and productivity tools,” and I couldn’t agree more. As much as you might hate writing by hand, you may want to consider trying it. Here are four ways “old-fashioned” pen and paper can kick start your writing process in our digital age:
- Less distractions. If you write your first draft by hand, you’re less likely to become distracted by your email alerts, breaking news or friends’ updates on social networks. After all, the pen, piece of paper and hard surface on which you’re writing will be the only things in sight. Unless you for some reason get distracted by flaws in wood grain (which I hope is unlikely), you’ll really be able to hone in on the task at hand.
- Quicker progress. Let’s face it, filling up a page on Microsoft Word is 10 times tougher than filling up a sheet of lined paper by hand. In an hour, you might fill up just one page on Word. So instead of feeling like you’re making zero progress, make it easier on yourself — you’ll feel like you’re making quicker progress after you’ve filled up three sheets of lined paper in just one hour.
- Lower pressure. I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly critical of my writing when it’s in an electronic form. When I write on pen and paper, it’s a different story. I allow myself to write sentences and phrasing that aren’t necessarily up to par, which helps me get into a groove without frequent pauses and self-interruptions. Sometimes it really is best to leave the nitpicking out of the first draft phase.
- A hard record. When writing in Word, you delete entire sentences and phrasing with no record of how they were written them previously. It’s different when writing by hand — if
you strongly dislike howyou’re not a fan of how you wrote a sentence or phrase the first time, a simple strikethrough will fix that. You’ll still be able to read the original phrasing, in case you want to revert to it. (It’s always great to have options!)
After you’ve finished writing your first draft by hand, it’s smooth sailing. It won’t take much time to transfer your writing to the computer, and from there, you can go through rounds of revisions. The important thing is that you’ll have the hardest step — the first draft — out of the way.
Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts. Why do or don’t you use pen and paper as part of your writing process? Leave a comment on what works best for you, or answer the poll to weigh in!